Man who police say lured 15-year-old away from Dallas Mavericks game has been arrested

Emil T. Lippe/AP

The man accused of luring a 15-year-old girl away from a Dallas Mavericks game in April has been arrested and charged with sexual assault of a child.

Emanuel Cartagena, 33, is accused of luring the 15-year-old from the Mavericks game April 8, 2022, and later sexually assaulting her.

North Richland Hills police had previously said the girl was found at a motel in Oklahoma City, where she was forced into prostitution.

During the second quarter of the Mavericks game at American Airlines Center in Dallas, the girl got up to go to the bathroom, according to the release. Surveillance video provided to the attorney with Fortenberry Firm PLLC showed the girl speak to a man on the concourse while they were passing each other and then rush to catch up with and follow him.

The man, who along with two others used a valid ticket to get into the American Airlines Center and then was escorted to a suite for which they did not have tickets by a former Dallas Mavericks employee, walked out of the building with the girl and spent about an hour walking around outside the center with her before leaving, according to the release. Zeke Fortenberry, who is representing the family, said in the release there is no evidence the man and girl had any prior communication.

The 15-year-old was found 10 days later at an Extended Stay America hotel where she was being prostituted, according to Fortenberry. His law firm said in a previous email to the American Airlines Center, Dallas police and the hotel that they failed the victim and her family.

The girl’s father got up from his seat at the game at halftime to look for his daughter, according to the release. He told an American Airlines Center employee he was unable to find her, and employees and security, including off-duty law enforcement, looked for her until 10:45 p.m., at which point they told the father his daughter wasn’t in the building.

Fortenberry said previously that Dallas police refused to investigate the incident and that the American Airlines Center and Extended Stay America hotel in Oklahoma City failed to protect the 15-year-old from her traffickers. The release refers to the man who she left with as a “person of interest.”

Oklahoma City police found that she was being held at an Extended Stay America hotel and made arrests and recovered the girl, who is from North Richland Hills, on April 18. Eight people were arrested on charges including human trafficking, distribution of child pornography and rape.

Cartagena was arrested on an outstanding warrant for sexual assault, according to police.

Police said the investigation is still ongoing.